Pew has released a survey breaking down the levels of religious belief among scientists compared to the general population. Not surprisingly, there was a much lower percentage of belief among scientists as compared to the general population, in particular when answering whether they believed in God.
Another of the “no-surprise-here” data points would be the comparison between men and women in their belief. Women had a higher percentage (even among scientists) than their male counterparts.
But looking a little more closely at the data, there were some interesting developments.
It broke down the belief among “hard sciences”. Even the one with the strongest numbers in the decidedly atheist column (Geosciences) had only 47% identifying themselves with atheism. 3% Didn’t know or refused to answer, 20% believe in a Higher power or Spirit other than God, and 30% believe in God. That means among the single group in this study most rigidly convinced that there is no God, we see 50% believe that either God or a Higher Power exists, compared to 50% that believe in no God, do not know, or refused to answer.
For people maintaining that there is no room for faith among scientists, this should indicate that the hostility between faith and science is (at minimum) overstated.
There is another breakdown whose data ran counter to conventional wisdom about irreligious scientists’ ascendancy. Trends, tell us what sort of change is occurring over time, and these trends were surprising to me.
Scientists (age 65+) — 28% Believe in God.
(age 50-64) — 32% Believe in God.
(age 35-49) — 37% Believe in God.
(age 18-34) — 42% Believe in God.
I am sure there are a number of ways to “spin” these numbers, but on their face, submitted without comment, they look interesting. Contrary to popular opinion, perhaps there is room for a believing scientist after all, now more than ever.
Stats taken from pewforum.org